NASA Explores Opportunity for Smaller Experiments to ‘Hitch a Ride’ to Mars

NASA’s goals for human deep space exploration are complex and ambitious. To maximize resources as it pushes the boundaries of exploration, the agency is exploring opportunities to take advantage of emerging private sector space capabilities.

NASA released a request for information Monday regarding possible commercial sources to fly limited payloads on planned, non-NASA missions to Mars. The agency will use the responses to gather market data on the complete spectrum of commercial plans, and identify any excess capacity that may exist for NASA payloads.

Furthering NASA’s human deep space exploration goals will require a significant amount of scientific research, and opportunities to collect data on Mars have been rare. Only seven successful missions to the surface of Mars have taken place in the history of spaceflight.

Evolving capabilities in the private sector have opened the possibility for NASA to take advantage of commercial opportunities to land scientific payloads on the surface of the Red Planet. Such capability would provide an additional method of acquiring science and engineering data concerning Mars, and would complement NASA’s current deep space exploration efforts.

Editor: Brian Dunbar

Photo Credit: NASA

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